A website for a betting service, www.betdaq.com, featured an image of the statue of Christ the Redeemer with the surrounding city of Rio de Janeiro visible behind. The statue had been digitally altered so that the figure's robe was purple, and the word
BETDAQ had been superimposed onto it. The image was headed WORLD CUP 2014 - BET WITH BETDAQ .
A complainant objected that the use of an image of Jesus Christ to promote gambling would be offensive to Christians.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged that the statute of Christ the Redeemer was a well-known landmark for the city of Rio de Janeiro and was therefore likely to be understood as a reference to the city and the location of the 2014 World Cup, particularly as the city
was visible in the background of the image and the tournament was clearly referenced in the ad. However, we also understood that any image of Jesus was likely to hold religious connotations for believers, and that despite its secular use as a landmark
this was still the case for the statue in question. We noted that, although the figure was not seen taking an active part in gambling, it was emblazoned with the logo and colour scheme of a betting company and was featured in a prominent role in an ad
for a gambling service. We considered that this created an association between the figure of Christ and gambling and commercial activities. We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some visitors to the website.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Ladbrokes to take care in future when using religious imagery.